Sunday, July 22, 2012

When You Write, Keep It Tight!

I was going to continue with some of the more subtle types of rhyme infractions today, but I got a call from my editor at Putnam last week and thought I would  bring you a crime of rhyme straight from the trenches

My editor was working with the illustrator for GOLDI ROCKS AND THE THREE BEARS  when she realized there was a bit of a pacing problem in the middle of the manuscript.

I basically took two stanzas to say what could have been said in one.

"This music's so catchy," said Goldi.
Her toes tapped in time to the song.
She grew a bit tired,
but still felt inspired.
"I'd love to try playing along!"

She looked all the instruments over,
then quickly put each to the test.
The guitar was too twangy.
The cymbals too clangy.
The keyboards were clearly the best.

I could see right away that not only was the first stanza pretty unnecessary, but it was also hard to illustrate.  Nothing really happens!  

In my first attempt to combine, I  went for the obvious... keeping the rhyme in tact.

This music's so catchy," said Goldi.
"I'd love to try playing along"
The guitar was too twangy.
The cymbals too clangy
The keyboards-- ideal for the song!

But I knew it could be better.  My next try got in a little added word play.

"This music's so catchy," thought Goldi.
"I'll jam right along with the band."
The guitar was too twangy
The cymbals too clangy
The piano was perfectly grand.
TIPS:    Cut the glut!  
             Ask yourself-  Am I giving the illustrator enough to work with in every stanza?
             Revise!  Revise!  Revise!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Here's an easy peasy way to spice up your manuscript and avoid the "snoozer fine". (1 month jail time and 300 smackaroos!)

Stop with the single syllable rhymes! Ok, not completely. It's perfectly acceptable to use flew and do and who and zoo and shoe. But what about sneaking in a little, "hullabaloo" or "overdue" or "miscontrue" or "kangaroo" or "judicial review"?! Ok, that last one may struggle to find it's place in a kids book...but ya never know! Not only will multisyllabic rhymes add some pizzazz to your verses, but it exposes kids to a wider range of words in general, helping expand their vocabulary. One reason editors do not encourage rhyming submissions (aside from being inundated with bad rhyme), is that they are also inundated with predictable rhyme. They've heard it all before, and they can guess how every sentence is going to end. SURPRISE THEM! You'll be happy you did!

One resource to get your creative juices flowing, is the ever helpful

They divide their list of rhyming words into syllable count. Try going right to the 3 and 4 syllable rhymes, and see what sticks out to you.


If working with these "bigger words" in your rhyme is new to you...try using the multisyllabic word as the first in the rhyming set. It will feel more natural (less forced) than if you use it as the punchline.

Show us some attempts and we'll let you know if you nailed it!
Until next time,

Tiffany & Corey
Always on patrol.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shameless Plug!

Hey guys,

More rhyme tips coming your way next week....!!

For now, wanted to share the book trailer for, THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN, which will be in stores on Tuesday, July 17th! Hope you enjoy!

To order a copy of the book for your little monsters from Amazon, click here!

Click here to order from Indiebound!

And remember:
Learn to Rhyme...or Do the Time.

Tiffany & Corey
The Metermaids
(Always on Patrol)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rhymes and Misdemeanors- Part 2

Okay, some of these are pretty obvious, but we just want to make sure we cover the basics, before moving on to more advanced stuff. 


In other words, no Yoda speak!

Phrasing should always sound natural.  As with the last crime of rhyme, ask yourself, "Would I have written this if I were writing in prose?"  If the answer is, "Not unless I've had six shots of vodka,"  then the line has to go!

PENALTY:  House arrest with ankle bracelet!

It's hard to find an example of this in a published book because no editor will go near a manuscript with inverted syntax no matter how good the story arc!

Next up...


"My throne shall be higher," his royal voice plundered.
"So pile up more turtles, I want 'bout two hundred!"

Even the mighty Dr Seuss (our idol!)  is guilty of this infraction on occasion.  

Examples abound in published works.  

Take for instance, this stanza from My Life as a Chicken  (and BTW, this is a very cute picture book, and we do really like it!):

Hard at work I cluck 'n' lay
night and day-- no time to play.
Laying dozens is my fate,
eggs in cartons, eggs in crates. 

Some people will tell you that if its close (i.e. with an "s" and without an "s"), then it's okay. 

But we are STICKLERS.   And here's why...   there are a million ways to convey the same sentiment.

Here is the same stanza from THE THREE NINJA PIGS written three different ways.
The wolf saw that he'd be defeated
He hung his head low in disgrace
Then the wolf disappeared,
and all the pigs cheered.
And he never again showed his face!

The wolf saw that Pig Three could take him
He shuddered and shivered with fear.
“Though I do love to dine
on succulent swine,
I’d best get the heck outta here!”

The wolf saw that he was outrivaled
He took one last look at Pig Three
"I love to eat ham,
but I think i should scram
before she makes mincemeat of me!

When there are so many ways to say the same thing, why settle for one that is less than perfect? 

PENALTY- Fine of $25-250 depending on frequency and severity. 

view details

TIP:  Use and to find alternate phrasing!